A wound, if not treated properly and on time, may cause infections and lower the functionality of the affected area.
Turmeric offers a natural solution as it has excellent anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and wound-healing potentials.
Wound healing can be accelerated by application and consumption of some drugs and natural substances like turmeric. Turmeric is of the best healing herbs.
Let us know more about it (you can skip this section and jump to benefits directly using the Table of Contents).
Table of Contents
- What is Turmeric?
- 10 Benefits of Turmeric in Wound Healing
- Turmeric Helps To Reduce Wound Inflammation
- Turmeric is a Potent Anti-Oxidant
- Turmeric Can Heal And Prevent Infections Of The Wound
- Turmeric Increases The Efficacy Of Antibiotic Medications
- Turmeric Enhances The Protective Inflammatory Response
- Turmeric Promotes Cell Proliferation And Recruitment To The Wound Area
- Turmeric Potentiates Maturation And Remodeling Of Wound Tissues
- Turmeric Helps In Healing Burn Wounds
- Curcumin Enhances Healing Of Diabetic Ulcers And Wounds
- Turmeric Helps In Controlling Bleeding From The Wound
- Turmeric Aids In Healing Of Radiation Wounds
- Turmeric Accelerates Healing Of Different Kinds Of Wounds
- Novel turmeric and curcumin formulations
- The dosage of Turmeric for Wound Healing
- Precautions to be taken
- Research Studies
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric has been used since ages as a spice and a medicinal herb in Asian countries.
Several species of turmeric are available worldwide, the most common being Curcuma Longa. The rhizomes of this plant are dried and ground to form turmeric powder.
Recent studies have affirmed the numerous benefits of this magical herb that were already documented in Ayurveda.
Let us find out how the use of Turmeric can result in faster healing and recovery from wounds.
10 Benefits of Turmeric in Wound Healing
Turmeric, owing to its potent anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and wound healing properties, is a natural remedy that is being used for many generations in this regard. Turmeric could be applied both topically and taken internally to alleviate the symptoms of pain, swelling, and infection to the wounded area to prevent further damage. It comes with the added benefit of no severe side effects, unlike conventional medications.
Turmeric Helps To Reduce Wound Inflammation
Inflammation is a protective mechanism adopted by the body to protect us from further damage from harmful stimuli.
It is characterized as heat, redness, swelling, and pain in and around the wounded area.
Such a response is the result of the accumulation of immune cells at the site and the leakage of plasma from the injured blood vessels.
Though beneficial initially, inflammation, when persistent for a prolonged period, is detrimental to health as it has the potential to cause damage to the neighboring healthy cells and also delay healing of the wound.
Numerous studies have reported turmeric to be effective in inflammatory disease conditions in different ways.
It suppresses the generation of inflammatory mediators such as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), Interferons and certain Interleukins – Interleukin 1 and Interleukin
It also contains the expression of genes coding for pro-inflammatory enzymes such as cyclooxygenase, thereby blocking the production of prostaglandins essential for the process of inflammation.
What it means:
Turmeric can help in reducing the swelling and redness in and around the wound by inhibiting inflammatory response in multiple ways.
Turmeric is a Potent Anti-Oxidant
Prolonged inflammation, immune system responses, and infections result in oxidative stress, and in return, oxidative stress leads to further intensification of the inflammatory response and delay in wound healing.
It is a vicious cycle.
Curcumin, one of the primary active constituents in turmeric, has shown to have potent antioxidant activity and therefore has several therapeutic applications.
Curcumin acts by scavenging free radicals – Reactive Oxygen Species, superoxide anion radicals, hydroxyl radicals, and Reactive Nitrogen Species generated by metabolic reactions of wounded cells and also by cells involved in the immune system – fibrocytes and keratinocytes.
It also by another pathway reduces oxidative stress by inhibiting enzymes such as lipid peroxidase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase involved in potentiating free radical cell injury.
In these different pathways, Curcumin exerts a potent antioxidant effect in wounds and even other chronic disease conditions.
What it means: Turmeric is effective in wounds as it prevents further progression and helps in faster healing of the wounds by its antioxidant activity.
Turmeric Can Heal And Prevent Infections Of The Wound
Infection can severely hamper wound repair and healing. An open wound, especially, is an easy target for a plethora of microorganisms to house and multiply further.
An infection in a wound could also lead to life-threatening conditions like sepsis and septic shock if not taken care of promptly.
Turmeric has long been used for its broad spectrum of anti-microbial effects on a variety of bacteria, fungi, and other parasites.
Curcumin exerts its anti-microbial effect by damaging cell walls of the microorganisms, making them more susceptible to destruction by immune cells and also compromises cell integrity by causing disassembly of cellular filaments ultimately inhibiting microbial cell growth and multiplication – this is hoe curcumin contains the infection and prevents it from spreading systemically to other organs of the body via the bloodstream.
A mixture of Curcumin with other anti-microbial agents is often used in anti-microbial formulations for wound dressing.
Curcumin is effective against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella, Klebsiella, and Staphylococcus bacterial strains.
Curcumin has also been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which form biofilms on the wound, delaying wound healing by reducing the size and density of the biofilm layer.
It has also demonstrated potent anti-microbial activity on multidrug-resistant bacteria such as the Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain, which exhibits resistance to most antibiotics from the ones used commonly to the more potent ones.
This makes Curcumin a promising agent to explore further.
What it means: Turmeric has an anti-microbial effect on a broad spectrum of microorganisms and therefore, can help prevent and also fasten the process of wound healing. It can also prevent the infection from progressing systemically.
Turmeric Increases The Efficacy Of Antibiotic Medications
Numerous research studies have shown that turmeric works synergistically with several antibiotic medications when taken alongside the management of infections.
Curcumin potentiates the activity of antibiotic medications by inducing cell filament fragmentation and leakage of the cell membrane of the microorganisms resulting in the breakdown of the microbial cell not allowing it to either grow or multiply further, making it more prone to the effects of the medications.
Studies have reported that even against resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Curcumin when given along with antibiotics, showed better inhibitory results than the medication singularly.
Reports indicate that this combination of Curcumin with antibiotic medications also resulted in a lower dose of the medicine required for the suppression of bacterial growth and division.
In case of wounds, wherein there is a high chance of contracting an infection and it spreading to other organs through the bloodstream, it becomes very important to manage the disease appropriately in which case turmeric could help substantially but improving the efficacy of conventional antibiotic therapy, also aiding in wound healing and shortening the time of repair.
Turmeric could, therefore, be a promising agent to take along with regular antibiotics as they work well together in combating infections.
What it means: Turmeric works synergistically with antibiotic medications in eradicating infections associated with wounds, thereby proving symptomatic relief and arresting the condition from progressing further.
Turmeric Enhances The Protective Inflammatory Response
The second phase of wound healing involves a protective inflammatory response, which is
potentiated by turmeric to allow for the migration of immune cells and cells required in wound repair and remodeling.
Turmeric inhibits any prolonged inflammatory pathways to allow for faster recovery and stop further complications.
What it means: Turmeric enhances the initial protective inflammatory response that helps protect the wound from further damage and allows the infiltration of regenerative cells and growth factors.
Turmeric Promotes Cell Proliferation And Recruitment To The Wound Area
Curcumin accelerates the infiltration of cells such as macrophages, neutrophils, and fibroblasts to the wounded area and allows for faster wound contraction.
The migration of various cells provides potential growth factors required for the regulation of biological pathways involved in wound healing.
Transforming growth factor (TGF-β1) is crucial in wound healing as it stimulates the expression of fibronectin and collagen by fibroblasts. This release of fibronectin and collagen fastens the rate of formation of granulation tissue.
Curcumin also accelerates the process of the creation of a new epithelial cell layer over the wounded area called re-epithelialization. It also helps speed up the process of formation of new connective tissue or granulation tissue associated with the wound.
Curcumin enhances the formation of new blood vessels to take over the damaged blood vessels to restore adequate blood circulation in the region to ensure nutrient delivery and removal of toxic and waste metabolites and materials.
What it means: Turmeric promotes regeneration of different cell layers in and around the wound tissue and form new blood vessels to help the area heal faster and preventing it from prolonged exposure to potential pathogens.
Turmeric Potentiates Maturation And Remodeling Of Wound Tissues
The process of wound healing exposes the body to extensive amounts of oxidative stress due to the generation of free radicals in the process.
Curcumin is said to improve the quality of the healing process as it has potent antioxidant properties.
On the other hand, Curcumin also increases the synthesis of collagen, the primary constituent of the epidermal cell layer at the wound site, and which also acts as a supportive matrix for the regenerative tissue required for wound healing.
Curcumin is associated with enhanced maturation and cross-linking of collagen by different pathways – it increases the stability of collagen; it promotes wound shrinkage and tensile strength of the skin.
What it means: In totality, Curcumin accelerates wound healing, repair, and remodeling of damaged wound tissues by controlling oxidative stress damage.
Turmeric Helps In Healing Burn Wounds
Wound healing and tissue repair in burn injuries are considered to involve a play of inflammation, granulation, and remodeling of the tissue.
Oxidative stress generated in the process plays an essential role in the delay of healing, promotes burn progression, and leads to poor outcomes.
Curcumin may acts as a single step solution instead of using multiple medications such as pain relievers, Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs NSAIDs, and anti-biotics and comes with much fewer side effects.
It not only helps in symptomatic relief but also accelerates burn wound repair and regeneration.
What it means: Turmeric alleviates most symptoms associated with burn wounds such as pain, swelling, and redness. It accelerates the regeneration of wounded tissues and thereby shortens the time of healing.
Curcumin Enhances Healing Of Diabetic Ulcers And Wounds
Diabetic wounds and foot ulcers are highly susceptible to infections and hence heal difficultly and take much more time to repair.
This is because the high glucose levels in the blood compromise blood circulation to the area and impair stimulation and activity of the immune system.
A growing body of evidence suggests that Curcumin fastens the healing time of such diabetic wounds by accelerating collagen deposition, the formation of new blood vessels, and regeneration of epithelial cell layers and new connective tissues in the wounded region.
What it means: Turmeric is beneficial in healing several diabetic wounds and ulcers by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and tissue repair.
Turmeric Helps In Controlling Bleeding From The Wound
The healing of a wound happens in several progressive steps. The clotting Phase is the first step in the entire process.
Curcumin is known to have coagulant properties as it helps in preventing a wound from bleeding in the time just after the injury. This significantly controls the amount of blood loss from the wound.
What it means: Initially, when the wound is open, and the blood vessels are damaged, Curcumin, when applied topically, controls excessive blood loss from the injured tissues.
Turmeric Aids In Healing Of Radiation Wounds
Radiation therapy routinely used in the treatment of cancer causes significant skin damage and inflicts wounds.
What it means: Turmeric as a pre-treatment or even during the course of radiation therapy could potentially decrease the development of dermatitis and skin wounds, improving the overall quality of life.
Turmeric Accelerates Healing Of Different Kinds Of Wounds
Turmeric has reported being useful in fastening the repair and healing of cutaneous incisional wounds inflicted as part of surgical procedures by decreasing wound closure time, alleviating inflammation, and oxidative stress.
Studies have shown that Curcumin has the potential to revert the effects of agents like aspirin and steroidal medications such as dexamethasone of hampering and delaying the biological rate and process of wound healing.
Topical Curcumin has also shown promise in enhancing the repair, regeneration, and re-epithelialization at the wound site in case of Carbon dioxide laser injury in preclinical studies.
What it means: Turmeric could be a potential aid in potentiating repair of incisional wounds from surgery, negate the hampered wound healing effect of certain drugs and help heal injuries from laser exposure faster.
Novel turmeric and curcumin formulations
Now, when the benefits of turmeric in wound healing have been well-established, the scientists are working on applying it practically by creating novel formulations with improved bioavailability and delivery of turmeric and curcumin to the wounds.
The dosage of Turmeric for Wound Healing
Turmeric can be taken both orally and topically for healing wounds.
There is no specific dosage of turmeric for complete wound healing and repair. However, inclusion in the diet is safe and can prove beneficial.
Turmeric and curcumin are poorly absorbed by the body. (Read How to improve Turmeric’s bioavailability?)
Start with small doses of ¼- ½ tsp a day. If no gastric side effects are seen, one can increase the dose gradually by ¼- ½ tsp a week till the ideal dosage of 1 tsp thrice a day (or 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day) is reached.
If taking large doses, avoid taking it simultaneously with medicines. (Read: Black pepper in GP: Does it cause Drug interaction?)
If opting for turmeric/curcumin supplements, consult a healthcare professional.
Topical application of turmeric on wound ensures localized delivery and enhanced absorption of turmeric which then helps in earlier and better recovery.
Scientists have developed many formulations containing turmeric to be used topically as wound dressings.
Turmeric has been found to be safe for topical application on skin wounds. However, some people might be allergic to certain spices and therefore, consult a patch test prior, if using for the first time.
For wound healing, take sufficient amount of turmeric powder and mix it with oil, preferably olive oil or coconut oil and apply to the affected area.
Leave it for at least 30 minutes and if required, cover with gauze. Repeat 2-3 times a day.
How to buy good turmeric powder?
If you are unsure how to buy good turmeric powder, please check our recommendations here>
Precautions to be taken
Avoid turmeric supplements during pregnancy, lactation, prior to surgery and if suffering from gallbladder obstruction or bleeding disorders.
In case of bleeding disorders, the inclusion of turmeric in the diet is safe. However, it is best to consult with your doctor before using either turmeric or turmeric supplements.
Avoid taking turmeric con an empty stomach to avoid symptoms of acid reflux.
Turmeric may interact with some drugs including anti-diabetics and anti-depressants, etc. Curcumin in turmeric has been known to interfere in the process of drug metabolism in the body.
Thus, concomitant use of turmeric/curcumin supplements with any other medications should be avoided.
Turmeric has been scientifically proven to promote wound healing.
The mechanisms behind this action have also been studied extensively and it has been reported that turmeric carries out this function due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
It also has the ability to regulate production and activation of several body cells, proteins, factors and immune components involved in this complex process.
With an additional anti-microbial feature, turmeric offers a safer more effective approach to prevent wound infections and facilitate early recovery.